We’re still in the early rounds, so a big chunk of the betting card is fantastic players whose names you recognize playing less successful guys/ladies as huge favorites. You have to figure at least one of them is going to go down, that’s just how grand slam tennis works. But who is it? That’s the question every tennis bettor wants to know.
Odds come from William Hill.
Maria Sharapova (4/9) vs Anastasija Sevastova (33/16)
Wednesday, January 17th: 7pm ET
Favored 4/9 against Anastasija Sevastova, who she’s 1-1 against all time. Not the most lopsided bet we’ll see today, but I suspect that there’s always value on the other side of a Sharapova bet. She’s one of the three most famous female tennis players in the world, and she doesn’t do the Serena Williams thing of winning every match and making betting largely pointless. She loses! She last used two tiebreaks to beat Sevastova at the China Open, so there could be an early-round upset in the works here.
Betting Advice: Betting against Sharapova always feels good, and Anastasija Sevastova (33/16) doesn’t need much help to make this win happen.
Tomas Berdych (1/6) vs Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (5/1)
Wednesday, January 17th: 8:15pm ET
After defeating hometown hopeful Alex De Minaur in the first round, Tomas Berdych finds himself facing an opponent he’s faced before. His second-round opponent is Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, whose biggest recent victory is probably his win over Kevin Anderson at the Vienna Open last October. The Australian Open is definitely his best tournament, at least that’s where he’s gotten the furthest the most frequently.
Can he beat Berdych? Yes! He’s done so on three occasions, most recently at the 2014 Monte Carlo Masters, but he does have earlier wins on hard courts as well. Berdych is definitely the favorite, but Garcia-Lopez is just good enough to win.
Betting Advice: If you’re looking to take a flyer, Garcia-Lopez (5/1) is the pick of this particular litter.
Novak Djokovic (3/14) vs Gael Monfils (22/5)
Wednesday, January 17th: 10pm ET
This will be a fun match to watch, if maybe lacking a little in tension. For all Gael Monfils’ talent and spark, he’s 0-14 against Novak Djokovic in his career, and their styles could not conflict more. Gael Monfils likes to jump all over the court and make spectacular, risky shots. Djokovic likes to do the opposite of that, using his mobility to cover the entire court and extend rallies until his opponent gets tired, makes a mistake, or does something reminiscent of Gael Monfils’ entire career.
These odds don’t create a lot of value, but they’re not quite as lopsided as the Federer odds, below. Bettors are hoping that Monfils finally puts it all together (good luck) or that Djokovic withdraws with injury. The elbow that took him out of play last year hasn’t fully healed, apparently, and after a frustrating set or two with Monfils it isn’t hard to imagine Djokovic dropping out.
Betting Advice: Betting on Gael Monfils (22/5) is one of the most agonising experiences the hobby has to offer. Still, there might be some value here.
Roger Federer (1/25) vs Jan-Lennard Struff (18/1)
Thursday, January 18th: 4:15am ET
Who is Jan-Lennard Struff? He’s best known for his clay court play, and he’s won 5 of his 17 Challenger Tour finals. He’s never made it past the second round of a grand slam, though he owns wins over Stan Wawrinka, Kevin Anderson, Grigor Dimitrov, Dominic Thiem, and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. He’s currently the 55th ranked tennis player in the world, and (according to the betting market) he doesn’t have a chance of beating Roger Federer. The current odds give him a roughly 5% chance of winning his match with Roger Federer, who’s favored to win the whole tournament. Tripping up and losing to Struff wouldn’t fit the fairytale narrative Federer likes to spin.
It’s definitely the best payout you’ll get for taking an underdog. It’s also the riskiest bet you can make. Betting on Federer doesn’t even yield you a good return, the American equivalent of -2500. Maybe skip this one.
Betting Advice: Skip this match altogether. You won’t get a payout from Roger Federer (1/25) that justifies tying up your bankroll, and Jan-Lennard Struff is not the longshot you want.
Stan Wawrinka (3/8) vs Tennys Sandgren (10/3)
Thursday, January 18th: 4:15am ET
One of the shortest favorites we’ll list here, because Stan the Man can be a bit inconsistent. His opponent, Tennys Sandgren, is either best known for being from America (a huge accomplishment on the ATP tour), having a particularly funny name (an even bigger accomplishment on the tour), and melting down that one time. Also tweeting.
The value here, if there is any, is on Wawrinka’s side. Betting on Sandgren is essentially betting on Wawrinka to withdraw with his knee injury, which would be understandable, but isn’t nearly a 3/1 shot.
Betting Advice: Do you know Stan Wawrinka’s doctor? If you know something we don’t, Tennys Sandgren (10/3) might be great value, but otherwise, go with the favorite.